I’ve tried to write this blog entry several times but have not been able to find the words to accurately express what I’m feeling. Let’s see if attempt number 5 is any different.
To catch new readers up, a quick summary. In May 2011 a doctor surprised me by telling me my liver was useless and I was going to die unless I got a transplant. June 2011 – April 2012 handfuls of pills and needles draining fluids kept me alive as I was hospitalized 11 times. May 7, 2012 my oldest son offered himself up to save my life. He laid on a surgeon’s table and allowed them to cut out almost 60 percent of his healthy liver to replace my diseased, scarred liver. He became weak so I might grow strong.
First, how would you feel if your only chance to live required risking the life of your son? Would you let him do it? It was one of the hardest aspects of my liver transplant journey. We as parents would give up our lives to save the life of one of our children but that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? But if the tables are turned? I remember driving back from Lahey Hospital in Burlington, Massachusetts after Dr. Amy Tien, told Robin and I that a living donor transplant would be the best option for me. She mentioned our children as possible donors. I sat silently staring out the passenger side window while Robin drove. Finally, through tears, I said, “I don’t want to do it. I don’t want one of my kids to have to do this for me.” But my son would not accept that.
I remember praying the night before the surgery. I begged God to preserve Josh. I pleaded with Him to guide the surgeons’ hands. I told God that if He was only going to allow one of us to live through surgery that it had to be Josh. I don’t remember praying much for myself. I prayed that Robin would find love again if I did not make it. I prayed that my children and family would not lose their faith. I prayed that my mom and dad would be able to hold it together. But, I didn’t pray that I would make it. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I had spent so much time being self-absorbed in the months before surgery that I figured God already knew my desire to live.
Now, let’s jump to the evening of February 16,2013 with me healthy and happy. My phone chirped a little birdie sound and I read the accompanying text message from Josh, “She said YES!” The emotion choked up in my throat. I was happy for two reasons: Josh was happy and I was alive to share his joy.
On a beautiful Fort Myers, Florida beach, on July 28, while the sun is setting into the ocean, Josh and Kristen will stand before me staring into each others eyes when I pronounce them husband and wife.
How do I convey to you how this makes me feel? Is it even possible? I am alive today because of the sacrifice of my son. I will be able to share in the joy of his wedding because of what he did for me. Not only will I be able to be there, he and Kristen have asked me to perform the ceremony. I get to be the one who prays for their new marriage. I get to be the one who hands each of them a ring signifying an unbroken circle of love so that they can place it on the finger of the other and proclaim their vows before God. I don’t just get to have a front row seat, I get to join my son who saved my life with the beautiful woman God has given him.
I love performing wedding ceremonies. I love watching the bridegroom come for his bride. I love looking at his face when he sees her coming up the aisle. I love the smile, the tear in his eye and the joy in his heart. I love seeing her walk forward with her eye on him, her smile stretching wide. I love the atmosphere and excitement over the day that is finally here. It’s not a coincidence that the bible calls the church the bride of Christ. It’s not meaningless that Jesus is called the bridegroom. I believe the wedding ceremony is a picture of God’s love and desire for his people. It is a beautiful portrayal of us being joined with God to live with him. I see a picture of God’s love in every wedding ceremony I officiate.
This one has an added dynamic. In this wedding I am reminded that the Bridegroom laid down his life willingly so that I might live. My Josh knew the risks of being a living liver donor. He knew the pain, the ugly forever scar and he still was willing. And now I am alive to share one of the happiest days of his life.
Robin and I met Kristen, Josh’s bride, over the Christmas holiday. She fit into our family like she has grown up with us. I teased her and she gave it right back to me. Her beauty radiates. I’m not talking about the beauty that fades, though she certainly is not hard on the eyes. Kristen’s beauty radiates from within. We’ve been praying for her since Josh was born and now we know her name. We prayed that Josh would find a woman who loves Jesus and orders her life and values on His teachings. We prayed for her family and her upbringing. Over Christmas we finally met this girl we’ve been praying for for 25 years.
Her mom and dad have modeled a strong marriage and, like Robin and I, still love each other like crazy. I was so psyched to see a Facebook post where Kristen put up a romantic note her dad left for her mom. It made me know her dad has taught her what a loving husband looks like. It also told me she has grown up with a mom who knows how to make her husband still leave her mushy notes after 30 years. Kristen has grown up in a family like ours.
On July 28, I will be in one of the most beautiful settings in the world watching my creator paint another gorgeous sunset. I will breath deep and smell the salty ocean air. I will hear birds calling and feel warm sand between my toes. And, as though that were not enough, I will introduce Mr. and Mrs. Joshua and Kristen Linscott to 50 of their family and closest friends assembled to share their joy.
In June of 2011 my goal was to survive long enough to officiate my daughter Shara’s wedding on July 2. God granted me that goal and blessed me with life, health and a future. Now I get to officiate Josh’s wedding and fully expect to live long enough to spoil my grandchildren.
If Grace is an ocean, I’m drowning.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11